Tinos Travel Guide
Tinos, the best kept secret of the Cyclades, a well-hidden muse of the Aegean. Carpets of golden sand lace the coasts and spring waters create oases between its rugged mountainsides. The locals work with such zeal to honor their little paradise that every village is a masterpiece, with a genuinely warm welcome awaiting all visitors in each. Their pathways will spur one to pull on one's walking boots and even take on the peaks by trekking, hiking, mountain biking or bouldering. The friendly winds will invite visitors to join in the fun on the waves or even surf. From the flora and fauna, the people have created a rich gastronomy. From their marble they have carved out a legacy of statues that are famous all over the world and a distinctive architectural style, crowned by the glorious Church of The Holy Virgin. The land was adorned with decorative dovecots, churches, temples, colorful bell towers, wind and watermills as a token of generous appreciation to the seeds of inspiration this blessed island offers so genuinely. This is Tinos, the Muse of the Aegean: the island that inspires us to live uniquely at every moment in every way.
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Tinos is an island located in the centre of the Aegean Sea and it belongs to the Northern Cyclades complex. It has a land area of 194.464 square kilometres and a population of around 8,700 inhabitants. It is the third biggest island of the Cyclades after Naxos and Andros, having Mykonos, Delos, Andros and Syros closest to it. Tinos is a separate regional unit of the South Aegean region, and the only municipality of the regional unit.
The island has a varied landscape. From the shores of Panormos and Kolimbithra on the North Shore to Kionia, Agios Ioannis Portos, and Agios Sostis on the southern shore, Tinos has many beaches. Tsiknias is the highest mountain on the island at 750 metres and hides the village of Livada. The mountain of Exobourgo is quite distinct, and unlike its more rounded Cycladic neighbors, has a jagged appearance that would be more at home in the Alps. Between Tsiknias and Exobourgo lies the fruitful plain of Falatados. This area is unique on the island as its relatively flat terrain (albeit with an elevation of about 300 metres) is rare on the island. Moreover, the area around Volax (also known as Volakas) is a surreal and very unusual landscape with giant boulders some the size of multi-storey buildings. The village of Volax lies at the center of this landscape. To the west, the mountains surrounding Pyrgos are full of some of the most beautiful green marble in Greece.
All around the island of Tinos, the islanders have made the most unusual things out of stone. The hills are all terraced with stone walls, called xerolithies, and every village is connected to its nearest neighbors by stone walkways set between a parallel set of stone walls. The island's mineral resources include marble, Verde antico, asbestos and a granite mine near Volax.
The climate of Tinos is Mediterranean, which means that the winters are not very rough and the summers are hot with plenty of sunshine. Tinos has more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year. During the hottest months of the year, i.e. from May to October, the strong northern winds of the Aegean Sea, called the "meltemia", make the heat less intense. They are at their strongest in the afternoon and often die down at night, but sometimes the meltemia winds last for days without a break. The little water that is found in the aquifer is collected mainly during the winter months. The rains are usually of short duration, rapid and cause erosion and damage to the soil. The temperature rarely falls below 10°C in winter, while it does not exceed 35°C in summer. A phenomenon sometimes observed during summer nights is the noticeable drop in temperature (the sharp night).
Tinos owes its name to its first inhabitant “Tinos”. Tinos was the leader of an Ionian team that came to the island from Asia Minor. However, some say that “Tinos” came from the word of the Phoenicians “Tenok” which means snake. In the past, it was also called “Ophiousa” (“ophis” means snake in Greek), because of the large number of snakes that used to be on the island (there aren't any nowadays), and also “Hydrousa” because of the plethora of running waters that the island has - by Cyclades standards anyway.
According to Mythology, snakes and reptiles disappeared from Tinos thanks to Poseidon (which is Neptune in Greek). The ancient god Poseidon, worshipped as the god of the Sea and as a great Doctor, is known to have exempted the island from the snakes and reptiles by sending a swarm of storks to exterminate them. Ever since, Poseidon became the protector of Tinos and that is why a glorious temple, the largest and most famous in the ancient years, dedicated to him was built at Kionia. Some ruins of the temple are preserved on the area nowadays.
The history of Tinos is rich and dates back to the ancient years. Although it is widely believed that the island's first inhabitants were Ionians in the 12th century B.C., there are signs of inhabitance in the 3rd millennium B.C. by Karians too. Prehistoric findings include shells located in the Vryokastro region. Apart from the worship of Poseidon in ancient years, Aeolos, the ancient god of the winds, was also believed to be living there. According to mythology, Hercules killed the sons of Vorias (or Aeolos) at Tinos. More specifically, Hercules chased and killed the sons of Vorias (the word for northern wind in Greek) or Aeolos, because they abandoned the Argonauts when the ship Argo passed by Tinos. So, Hercules found them on the island’s highest mountain Tsiknias, killed them both and buried them on the top of the mountain. When their father found out that his sons were buried at Tinos, he was furious and decided to “punish” the island by blowing very strong northern winds, which is the first thing that visitors notice when arriving at Tinos.
According to another myth, the cave located at the point where the mountain Tsiknias meets the sea in the area of Faneromeni is interconnected with the top of the mountain. This is the spot that Aeolos chose to blow, through this tunnel, creating huge waves to the sea.
The island was also a purgatory for those preparing to go to Delphi. Additionally, to a lesser extent than nearby Delos, Tinos was an important religious center during the pre-Christian era and attracted many pilgrims who came for the ceremonies known as the Poseidonia held in January and February. In the third century the worship of Amphitrite, the wife of Poseidon, as a patron of feminine fertility became popular and the temple was renovated and enlarged. As many others, this temple was also destroyed by the Christians in the 4th Century A.D. .
The Ionians came to Tinos around 1130 B.C. and that period was one of prosperity for the island, with impressive works being constructed. The most astonishing of them is the aqueduct of Peisistratus, which was finalized in 542 B.C. and was the main water supply system of Chora until 1934 A.C. .
The people of Tinos were traditionally allies of the Athenians. As a consequence, Tinos assisted Athens in the Persian wars. A Tireme commander from Tinos named Panaetios Sosimenous, who joined the Greek naval force right before the Salamina naval battle, deserted the Persian fleet to inform the Greeks of their plans enabling the Greeks to prepare and win the greatest naval battle in ancient history and stop the advance of the Persians. This fact led to Tinos' name being written on the respective tripod at Delphi. Furthermore, Tinos fought against the Persians in the great battle at Plataea and became a member of the Delian alliance before being dominated by the Macedonians, the Ptolemaists and finally the Romans in the 2nd century A.D. . Two ancient Greek authors have written about the island: Aristotle wrote “The State of the Tinians” and Ainissidimos “Tiniaka”; but both works have been lost.
During the Byzantine times, Tinos was very often attacked by Saracen, Arab, Goth and Ottoman pirates, because of its geopolitical position, something that led to the island's decline. The situation further deteriorated due to earthquakes and plagues, the worst of which lasted 52 years and diminished the island's population to a great extent. During this period, many inhabitants left the island seeking for better life conditions.
The year 1204 was among the most important years in the history of the island. It was at that time when the European Christians of the 3rd Crusade, on their way to liberate the Holy-Land, decided to liberate their Christian neigbors in Constantinople (Istanbul) of their wealth and in the process burned down the city. They tortured and massacred their fellow Christians, destroyed churches, palaces, monasteries and even sculptures made by Phedias and Praxitelis. They stole icons, relics and anything of value and they burned countless ancient Greek manuscripts. Tinos and the other Cyclades islands fell into the hands of the Ghisi dynasty, the two brothers Andrew and Jeremiah Ghisi, who were aristocrats from Venice. Tinos was governed by Venetians until 1715, long after the rest of Greece had fallen to the Turks, and the large number of Catholics on the island goes back to that period. Due to the fact that the island was under Venetian and not Ottoman rule at that period, it maintained a more advanced society than what was found on other islands in terms of art, culture, food production, agriculture, pottery and even the production of silk. The island was also a place of refuge for people trying to escape the other parts of Greece which were occupied by the Turks. The Venetians also organized the fortress of Exobourgo, that used to be the island's capital at the time, to protect the island from the many pirates who preyed on all the islands of the Aegean. The architecture of Tinos in general is highly influenced by the period of Venetian domination.
After repeated failed attempts, Tinos island was finally conquered by the Turks. More specifically, in 1715 Janoum Hodge came with more than 25,000 men and 45 ships and occupied the island. This generated astonishment in Venice, since Tinos was known as a very powerful region with excellent defense, which was considered impenetrable. So, the island's governor was accused of bribery and was condemned to death with poison. Tinos is one of the very few regions, if not the only one, that had such a brief period of Ottoman domination in the 18th century. It ended in 1770 and during that period the island's capital was transferred to Chora.
Even in that brief period however, life conditions had nothing to do with the conditions of subordination in other parts of Greece. Tinians were allowed rights and privileges which were unheard of on other islands under Turkish occupation. They were the only people in the Ottoman empire not required to wear the red stockings, could wear local dress and were allowed to build churches and schools. The Turkish fleet was not permitted within 12 miles of Tinos and there were no permanent Turkish residents. Even the representatives of the Ottoman government were rarely around. Though Turkish rule was almost non-existent compared to other parts of Greece, Tinians still left the island for the cities of Constantinople, Smyrna and Alexandria with their large Christian populations and economic opportunities. With all these Tinians in business in foreign ports the island became quite wealthy and was known as "Little Paris" with a population of almost 30,000.
From 1770 to 1774 the island was occupied by the Russians. Despite the fact that the Russians dominated Tinos for only 4 years, they restructured the island's defense and renovated the Kechrovounio Monastery and built the Saint Catherine's Church, but also destroyed many Catholic churches and monasteries.
As the Ottoman empire began to decline, the privileges of the Tinians began to disappear. As a consequence, Tinos joined the Greek Revolution on 31 March 1821, initiated in Pyrgos village. Tinos was actually the first Cycladic island to participate in the Revolution and contributed significantly to it. The inhabitants of the island with their wealth, culture, education and seafaring abilities played an important role in the Revolution giving ships, sailors and, of course, heroes. Over 2,000 of them died in the war. More than 12 Tinians were members of the "Filiki Eteria" ("Friend's Society"), while the island was a valuable refuge for the persecuted Greeks and refugees, giving shelter to around 30,000 refugees who tried to be rescued from the vengeance of the Turks.
The most important historic event of Tinos in the recent years is the miraculous finding of the Orthodox image of Virgin Mary on 30 January 1823, after the vision of nun Pelagia concerning its position. The discovery of Virgin Mary's holy icon was considered a blessing for the right and the success of the Revolution. Many of Greece's greatest heroes of the 1821 Revolution went to Tinos to pay respect to it, such as Kolokotronis, Kanaris, Miaoulis and Makriyannis. The image finding was followed by the construction of the Church devoted to Virgin Mary, from 1823 to 1831, a church of unique architecture. After the war, the town was established as a Pan-Hellenic religious centre and the church has been a meeting point for Christians from all over the world, with many miracles being recorded and many precious items being gifted to the Church as a token of gratitude to Virgin Mary. The years that followed the completion of the Virgin Mary's Church in Chora were years of culture and artistic expression, with Tinos being the home town of many Greek artists and sculptors.
On 15 August 1940, on the day of the local religious festival for Virgin Mary, the Italian fleet with their submarine "Delfino" torpedoed the Greek ship "Elli" outside the port of Tinos killing 9 sailors and injuring 24, which led to Greece's involvement in the Second World War. During the period of the occupation and although there was much suffering since many people died from hunger, the island played an important role in the resistance, as a passageway out of the country for evacuating soldiers and as a source of information on German ship movement. The foundation of the Church donated all its precious items to the Greek state for the provision of guns and supplies to the Greek army during the Albanian war.
Today, Tinos is one of the most interesting islands in Greece attracting a large number of tourists, not only because of its grandiose church and all the religious tourism that this brings, but also thanks to its diverse landscapes, wonderful beaches, historic monuments, natural beauty and art. The island remains an important cultural spot, with sculpture and painting being developed and used even as part of the architecture. Among the numerous artists that are famous worldwide are painters like Nikolaos Gizis, Nikiforos Lytras, Nikolaos Gaitis (also a sculptor) and Frangiskos Dessypris, as well as famous sculptors such as Giannoulis Chalepas, Demetrios Filippotis, Lazaros Lameras and the Vitalis brothers.
CULTURE - FOOD - LOCAL PRODUCTS
Art is in the blood of the Tinians, who show a particular genius in getting inspired from what nature has to offer them. This has led to the emergence of a unique aesthetic that only in this island of the Cyclades can be found. Those who looked for the beauty of Tinos, called it the “island of artists”, while others referred to it as a unique outdoor spectacle of folk art.
Tinos has a long tradition of painting and sculpture which continues to this day. The island is a showcase for its marble artists, as evidenced by fountains, statues and adornments in and on churches and houses (particularly window fanlights, a Tinos creation), whether the structure be humble or noble. Some of the most exquisite artistry is to be found on the 600 or more dovecotes sprinkled throughout the countryside, each handcrafted in a unique and complex design.
And for those wishing to learn firsthand the technique of marble sculpture, there are regularly-scheduled classes conducted by one of the island's foremost sculptors. Additionally, there are several fine museums on the island, as well as a School of Fine Arts in the village of Pyrgos, which is one of the most important art schools in Greece and a "Mecca" for young artists from all over the world who go there to compete for scholarships to the Athens School of Fine Arts.
The emphasis on art is well-merited and is a continual source of pride and accomplishment for the numerous Tinian artists and sculptors who are known all over the world. It’s no surprise that this island, although small in size and population, but rich in artistic tradition and stimuli from the environment, has been the birthplace of many important artists, such as Giannoulis Chalepas and Nikolaos Gyzis, and that even the father of Phedias, acknowledged as the greatest sculptor of all time whose most well known work was the Parthenon, came from Tinos.
As for the architecture, the houses on the island are built according to Cycladic architecture. White and blue dominate, with lintels decorating beautiful windows and doors, low profile windows, outdoor staircases connecting floors and the characteristic Kapatsos are only some of these styles.
And then, there's the food... Tinos is rich in local products and its local cuisine, based on the famous healthy Mediterranean cuisine, is quite different from the other Cycladic Islands. Fresh fish, the famous Tinian veal and local agricultural products are the basis of Tinian kitchen. One should not forget to try the local sundried tomatoes, the local cheese called tiniako, the local capers, generously used in salads and in various dishes, the home-made pasta with tomato and basil, the meat products such as louza, siglino, wild rabbit, pigeon cooked in tomato sauce and sausages, and, of course, the famous wild artichokes.
Dishes with artichokes is another tasty specialty of Tinos, since the island produces a lot of them, of a high quality, especially in the area of Katomeri. Some of these delicious original dishes are artichoke omelette, artichoke salad, artichoke with liver and rice, artichoke with pasta, artichoke and rabbit and much more. Be sure to get the local artichokes in olive oil and lemon. One will never think of artichokes the same way again.
Some of the most famous local specialties of Tinos are:
- Capers salad: thick capers are sun-dried, then boiled and soaked in water in order to lose their bitterness. Before serving, it is drained and it is usually accompanied with garlic sauce, oil and vinegar.
- Louza: louza is something like the Italian prosciutto, but is made of filet marinated first in salt for three-six days and later in red wine for several days. Afterwards it is spiced with pepper, nutmeg and other spicy seeds and “smoked” for four hours. After being dried for about two months louza is served cold in very thin slices.
- Skordoloukanika (sausages with garlic): these are sausages made of pork meat, where the meat is marinated with garlic and sweet wine for about four hours. Then, this is used as a stuffing for the pig’s intestines and the sausages are dried by the wind and sun. “Skordoloukanika” are a main ingredient of “Furtalia”.
- Syglino: little pieces of soft pork meat initially boiled in water and later in pork grease (“glina”). When the meat turns red, it is ready to be stored in jars made of clay.
- Furtalia: this delicious omelet is made of eggs, skordoloukanika or syglina, grated cheese, milk, parsley, salt and pepper. Sometimes, more ingredients are added, like potatoes, and its main difference with simple omelets is that it is fried in “glina”, which is pork grease.
Moreover, there are delicious local deserts that one should try - apart from the excellent thyme honey, which is a must. Some of them are:
- Psarakia: yeast is cut into round pieces and filled with nut, honey, cinnamon and rusk. After they are baked, they are sprayed with rosewater and sprinkled with caster sugar. This desert has a unique aromatic taste.
- Xerotigana: made of flour, water, lemon and oil which are then turned into yeast, xerotigana are fried and served with cinnamon, honey and sugar. They are served at weddings, feasts and funerals, accompanied with the Greek traditional beverage “raki”.
- Avgokalamara: similar with xerotigana, only their yeast has eggs and milk instead of water.
- Tsimbites (sweet cheese pies): these cheese pies are quite unusual, because they are not salty but sweet. They are stuffed with “analati” cheese, eggs, sugar, vanilla, mastic and cinnamon. Tsimbites are a mandatory dish for Easter.
One should also try the famous custard-filled pastry called galaktomboureko in the coffee-pastry shop "To Kentrikon" in Pyrgos.
All the above could be accompanied with one of the great local wines, the local tsipouro, ouzo and raki or, for the beer lovers, with Tinos' own artisanal Nissos Beer (many visitors even take a 6 pack or two of Nissos Beer as a gift back home, sometimes combining it with a tour of the Nissos Brewery on the outskirts of town just off the road to Agios Ioannis).
For the cheese lovers, the Cheese Cooperative of Tinos has its factory in the village of Tripotamos and a shop on Megaloharis Avenue in Chora.
Moreover, a local annual Gastronomy Festival is organized in Tinos, which is called "Tinos Foodpaths" and lasts for a week. However, even if one isn't so lucky to visit the island on the period when the festival takes place, feasts with plenty of food are all over the island all over the year. The feasts in Tinos have nothing to do with exhibitions organized in the rest of Greece, or the celebration of the Assumption of Virgin Mary on August 15. Most of the houses on the island have their own chapel and on the name day of the Saint of each chapel, the inhabitants open their yards to the public, so that both fellows and visitors can go in to visit the chapel and then take a treat. Tables are set in each yard, all women of the village cook one traditional dish and all visitors are welcome to get into the yards of the houses, pay a visit to the church, eat local food and sweets, drink local wine, raki or tsipouro and sometimes even dance if the feast turns out this way and the local instruments and singers are there. The houses that celebrate welcome guests until late in the evening. Such feasts take place almost every day on the island, since the chapels of the island are around 1,000, and it is a unique experience for those who participate in any way!
ACTIVITIES - LEISURE
The miracle of Tinos isn’t only the miraculous icon of the Virgin, which gave the island its fame. It’s the wild beauty that excites visitors; rocks eroded by the wind, beaches with deep blue water, Cycladic villages that climb up the hillsides. A thousand more miracles are just waiting to be discovered on this island of the Cyclades: beaches – both secluded and organised – for scuba diving and surfing, local delicacies, lunar landscapes and pilgrims crawling up to Our Lady of Tinos on their knees. Some 750 chapels and churches, Catholic and Orthodox, 600 ornate dovecotes, 34 settlements, and the Temple of Poseidon, where pilgrims were purified before they continued on to the sacred island of Delos. Once visitors get to know the island, they too will become believers... Some of the many things the island has to offer could be found below.
The visitor’s first impression when looking at Chora is that its urban elements are more than its insular identity. But that's wrong. The city “holds” well-kept secrets. Behind the quay lies an entire insular town which retains many of the 19th century elements. While wandering in the alleys the visitor will discover arches, old mansions and churches, villas with large gardens, glens and fountains, cobblestone paths and houses with blazons, all showing the urban development of the town in the period between the 18th and 19th century and proving a past economic and social prosperity.
The old road leading to Megalochari (the church of Virgin Mary), a paved pedestrian road full of little shops constructed in the middle of the 19th century is also interesting. The new wider road, accessible to cars, was constructed later, in the 50s. It is worth visiting the Textile School, the chapel of St. Nicholas Catholic church, the Tinian Artists Museum and the Art Gallery in Megalochari complex, the Cultural Foundation of Tinos, which hosts the permanent Giannoulis Chalepas exhibition and the Temple of Poseidon and Amphitrite in Kionia. Dominating above all is Megalochari’s complex which seems to embrace and protect the town from its northern edge where it lies.
Megalochari Church of Tinos or Evangelistria Church of Tinos (Church of Virgin Mary)
The Church of Virgin Mary at Chora is the most famous and among the most grandiose churches in Greece. It was built between 1823 and 1831 on the spot where the Orthodox Image of Virgin Mary was found, after a vision of nun Pelagia (who was later acknowledged as a Saint). The spacious temple is of traditional architecture with many arches and consists of a two-floor building and many smaller buildings in its courtyard, which house artistic objects, ecclesiastic items and other precious historic objects.
The Evangelistria Church is known as one of the most miraculous in Greece, since many people with serious illnesses have been cured after praying to Virgin Mary in this Church. This is why, many Christians from different parts of the world return to the Church every year to thank Virgin Mary, offer precious items made of silver and gold to the Church and most of them arrive from the port to the Church on their knees, as a token of gratitude. This is a unique image and revives at large on August 15th, which is a glorious day of celebration for the whole island.
Apart from kneeling and feeling the amazing energy of the temple though, visitors have also the opportunity to admire works of art of renowned painters and sculptors, as well as objects that were important for the Greek history in the venues around the courtyard of the Church. One of these venues housed at the courtyard of the Virgin Mary Church is the Museum of Tinian Artists. There, one can admire the works of various Tinian artists, like paintings of N. Ghisis, Nikif. Lytras, G. Roilos, G. Renieris, G. Gaitis, and sculptures of G. Halepas, L. Sohos, D. Filippotis, G. Vitalis, I. Voulgaris and others. At the courtyard of the same Church is also found The Antonios Sohos Museum, where one can see wooden and plaster sculptures used for decorative purposes of this unique artist who was also an academic. Additionally, the Art Gallery is accommodated at an internal part of the courtyard at the Virgin Mary Church and gives visitors the possibility to admire more than 100 paintings of famous painters, both from Tinos and from other regions of Greece, like Nik. Lytras, G. Iakovides,N. Gizis, K. Parthenis, I. Altamouras, K. Volonakis, and G. Roilos, as well as renaissance paintings from Italy and decorative objects from all over Europe. At another part of the Virgin Mary Church courtyard the Exhibition of Ecclesiastic Heirlooms and Images is housed, which hosts Orthodox images created between the 14th and 19th century, the Chart of Rigas Ferraios (one of the three Charts that have “survived”), the ring of Kolokotronis, and paintings and sculptures of various artists. Last but not least, at the same location, there is Elli Mausoleum. There lie the first victims of the Second World War in Greece, members of the crew of warship Elli, which was torpedoed in 1940 outside the port of Tinos, as well as several items from Elli.
Cultural Foundation of Tinos
This excellent cultural centre in a handsome neoclassical building on the southern waterfront houses a superb permanent collection of the work of famous Tinian sculptor Yannoulis Chalepas. A second gallery has rotating exhibitions. Musical events are staged in summer, and there’s a gift shop and harbourfront cafe.
The Archeological Museum of Tinos is situated on the main street that leads to the port and the Church of the Virgin Mary. There, one will find a rich collection of amphorae and domestic utensils from various periods, vases of the Geometric period, great amphorae and clay pots, as well as headstones of the 5th century that were found in Exombourgo and Kampos. In the museum's yard, one will also find exhibits of pieces of the temple of Poseidon and Amfitriti.
Sanctuary of Poseidon & Amphitrite
Tinos, during ancient times, was one of the most important religious centres, after that of Delos. During the 5th century B.C. it was flourishing as a centre of worship of Poseidon, who was also worshipped as a healer apart from being the god of the sea. During the 3rd century B.C. the reconstruction and expansion of the temple took place, where the worship of Amfitriti, wife of Poseidon and patron of feminine fertility, was also established. This grandiose temple, one of the most glorious of ancient times, is located at Kionia, 3 km northwest to Chora.
The temple was of Dorian architecture and was created by famous sculptures like Telesinos from Athens and Agasias from Ephesus. It is remarkable that Andronikos from Kyristos, Macedonia, constructed an amazing solar clock, which is now exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of the island. Moreover, the temple had elements of Tinian architecture based on local marble and gneiss, like for example a fountain. Today one can see parts of the foundations of the two temples, the guest house, the bath, as well as a platform. Among the findings one can also see various sculptures and decorations of the temple, which bear witness to its magnificence. Kionia is a site not to be missed.
All villages of Tinos are like gems, really beautiful and interesting. Walking through them will leave everyone speechless. They are more than 45, all beautiful with original traditional Cycladic elements. It seems that time has stopped, so one can meet the real Cyclades, filled with light, blue, colors and sun. Pyrgos,Isternia, Fatalados, Kardiani, Volax, Tripotamos, Kampos, Arnados, Loutra and so many more; no matter which ones one chooses to visit, one will see that they are like ornaments decorating the island’s slopes and valleys. Walk among them, one by one: there is marble everywhere, in the squares, the skylights, in the fountains. Take a break at a traditional cafe under the shade of the sycamore trees and have a coffee or a bite to eat. There is always Tinian cheese, louza (smoked meat) and sweet raki on offer. The hospitality of the people is an experience one must have. They will welcome the visitor with a hearty smile and will open their homes and hearts. Approach them, ask them, greet them. They will respond back and if there's a feast in a house's chapel, they will give you a treat of local food and drinks - now that's hospitality!
One should not forget to see the famous dovecotes, since every one is a masterpiece. Peristeriones, as dovecotes are called in Greek, are typical to the Tinian landscape, and are some of the most impressive works of art in the Cyclades. There are over 600 dovecotes made of slate, stone and limestone and covered with lithographs. The pigeons and doves swoop around them, but one will need a trigger finger on the camera to catch them in flight.
Pyrgos village is built in the heart of a verdant site, as one of the largest, most beautiful villages of Tinos and the entire Cyclades. The village charms with the numerous marble creations made by the local craftsmen, since even the cemetery is a feast of carved marble and the perfect village square looks like a film set. Today visitors have a chance to admire the marble streets, arches, churches and many monuments. Wood carving workshops and a School of Fine Arts also function in the village of Pyrgos. Marble exists everywhere in the village in different forms, above the colorful doors of the houses, on the fountains, in the cemetery with its wonderful sculptures and in the completely marble-made buildings which make Pyrgos an outdoor architectural museum. The whitewashed narrow alleys, houses and churches as well as the colourful flowers decorating the house facades and balconies uniquely match with the aristocratic marble features, giving the village a superb decor. It is worth mentioning that Pyrgos is the birthplace of many famous Greek sculptors, one of which is Greece's famous sculptor Yannoulis Chalepas.
The fascinating Museum House of Yannoulis Chalepas, at the main entrance to the village, is open to the public and preserves the sculptor’s humble rooms and workshop. One hundred and fifteen of his sculptures survive today, many of which are on Tinos, and to many people he is considered the greatest of the modern Greek artists. The museum also contains sketches and some copies of his works but also shows what a 19th century island house is like.
Museum of Marble Crafts
In the highest building on Pyrgos hill, the Museum of Marble Crafts is part of the Piraeus Bank Cultural Foundation's network of high-tech museums on the last century's traditional industries. The museum has been inaugurated in the year 2007 and is the most modern architectural building of the island. The museum presents the circle of the marble, i.e. the various stages between the excavation of marbles until the creation of sculptures. Audiovisual presentations are combined with sculptures exhibitions providing a complete sense of the entire process. The exhibits that show the process of quarrying and carving are the best one will ever see. The master artists' drawings for altarpieces and tomb sculpture are also on display, as are some of their works.
Tinian Artists Museum Pyrgos
Housed in a building at the entrance of Pyrgos, it includes sculptures and reliefs by artists of the Panormos area, such as G. Chalepas, D. Filippotis, E. Lampaditis, I. Voulgaris, L. Doukas, G. Vitalis, L. Sochos and others. Some of them are in fact authentic models of the marble works.
At the end of the excursion to Pyrgos, one shouldn't forget to rest at the village’s square and have traditional coffee and a real homemade galaktomboureko (a delicious pastry with syrup and cream) under its beautiful perennial platens at "Kentrikon".
From Pirgos one can drive to the western tip of the island to see the small church of Agii Theodori and the islets of Kalogeri and Disvato and the island of Andros, a part of Tinos that is rocky and barren with lots of marble outcrops and that most people skip. Further north of Pyrgos the main road ends at Panormos.
Panormos is a popular destination for its photogenic fishing harbour lined with fish taverns. It is an ideal place to eat or even have a drink or coffee with view to the north side sea and the beautiful small island “Planitis”. Since, however, it is very close to many beaches, such as Panormos Beach, which is ideal for windsurfing, Rochari, Aghia Thalassa and Kavalourko, one could plan to go for a swim first and then go to eat.
Isternia is like a balcony to the Aegean Sea. Built on the mountain Meroviglia, on the west part of the island, 20 km from the Chora of Tinos, it has a marvelous view to Syros and it is among the largest villages of the island. The beauty of Isternia is due to the fact that artists, who were born and lived in the village, have created many sculptures and works of art, which are visible everywhere: on the houses doors and courtyards, on the churches, on stairs, belfries or even on the floors. Isternia is like an open-air exhibition accessible free of charge all year long. There, one could visit the Museum of Isternia’s Artists, which houses works of art made of artists that came from the village, such as L. and M. Fytalis (the Fytalis brothers), J. and F. Malakates (the Malakates brothers), G. Vitalis, L. and A. Sohos, and L. Lameras.
Volax has a unique and strange landscape that looks like a lunar landscape in the Aegean. Surrounding the village is a surrealistic plateau with huge boulders, like the abandoned toys of a playful giant - and, therefore, the name "Volax", which means rock in Greek. The round granite boulder formations of all different sizes and of more than ten variations and styles are not meteorites, but down to the geological phenomenon of erosion, reminders of a volcanic eruption that took place a few thousand years ago. Among the rocks lie white houses that create an unfamiliar architecture, contrasting with the profound red of the rocks. The traditional occupation of the villagers has been basketry, so one can visit the workshops of the basket-weavers, admire and buy one these famous and useful souvenirs. The old churches that are found around the village, the Folklore Museum that displays an interesting collection of exhibits from the 19th century, as well as the outdoor stone theatre where cultural events are organized at summer are worth visiting. Volax is also the meeting point for climbers from around the world for bouldering - which is climbing without a rope. If one finds oneself in the village on Easter Thursday, one shouldn't miss the “Maranda”, the great Catholic festival in Panagia Kalaman. Crossing all this the region of Kakovolo, from Falatado to Panagia Kaki Skala, one will experience the wild beauty of this lunar landscape.
The peak of Exomvourgo
About 640 m. above sea level, the mountain of Exomvourgo stands out among the island’s landmarks. At its base one will find the Catholic monastery Ieras Kardias Iisou (Abbey of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), one of the most impressive attractions on the island, as well asthe old chapels of Saint Minas and Saint Eleoussa built in 1828. The fortress of Exomvourgo, at the peak, was once the highest in the Aegean, but it was besieged and destroyed by the Turks in 1715. From up high one can admire the view not only of Tinos, but also of Samos, Ikaria, Naxos and Delos… breathe in the Aegean!
Abbey of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Abbey of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was first founded in the 17th century, but in a different location. It was destroyed by the Turks and at the end of the 19th century, Catholic monks renovated the almost totally destroyed church of Saint Sophia at Exomvourgo and renamed it Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Today, it is a beautiful white Catholic abbey where visitors can also eat and stay over. In the middle of the courtyard there is the statue of Sacred Heart of Jesus, created by Filippotis in 1950. The abbey organizes its annual feast with various events on the second Sunday of July.
Exomvourgo Archeological Site
The rock of Exomvourgo was inhabited during the Bronze Age. Findings at Exomvourgo include a cemetery of the Geometrical Period, the Temple of the Big Goddess and Daughter of the same period (10th -7th century before B.C.), later devoted to Goddess Demetra and her daughter Persephone, and the fortress built in the 13th century A.C., which is in a quite good condition today and has a very beautiful view, as mentioned above.
On the west-central part of Tinos, on the foothills of Mount Exobourgo, lies one of the oldest villages of the island, Tripotamos. The village is built between three rivers and it consists of beautiful arches, whitewashed steps, arcades and narrow alleys. In this picturesque village one can find the worth-seeing church of Esodia Theotokou (The Presentation of the Virgin) decorated with some fine marble works of art. This beautiful village is the birthplace of the internationally famous modern Greek philosopher Kornilios Kastoriadis.
The three villages of Dio Choria, Triandaros and Berdemiaros are known as the "Balconies of Tinos" because of their spectacular view of the sea and the nearby islands.
This village can be found north-east of Chora, near the village of Triantaros, 10 km from Chora. It is among the most beautiful villages of Tinos with a strong medieval character and breathtaking view to the neighboring Cycladic islands. The village is built amphitheatrically on the slopes of Mount Exobourgo, offering a clear view to the southern part of the island. Dio Choria is a quaint settlement made of old white stone houses with coloured windows and doors, stone paved narrow alleys and superb stone arches and arcades forming little passages through which the light draws magical shades. Bright colored flowers decorate the whole village like precious ornaments. On the little square of the village one can admire some beautiful cave-fountains. One of these fountains is enclosed in marble with a painting of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus - where offerings are left and candles lit for loved ones - whereas another one has a depiction of the baptism of Jesus.
Arnados is situated on the eastern part of the Island and it is the village of the highest altitude, 10 km from Chora. It is one of the oldest villages in Tinos, built amphitheatrically, whereas from the highest point people can get a breathtaking view to the sea and Mykonos Island. The picturesque village has a special atmosphere due to its medieval galleries, the traditional architecture, the Medieval arches and the paved streets, special characteristics that mark the significance of the area. Several churches lie around the medieval village, including the famous Monastery of the Lady of the Angels or Monastery of Kechrovouni and the Church of Agios Nikolaos Vanos. In close distance to Arnados, one can visit the traditional settlement of Mountados. An Ecclesiastical Museum, including icons and old reliefs, and a Rural Museum are among the most interesting sites of Arnados village.
Monastery of the Lady of the Angels (Kechrovouni)
The Monastery of the Lady of the Angels at Kechrovouni was built after three sisters had the same vision: a woman, Virgin Mary, indicated them to build a monastery at a specific point at Kechrovouni, where there was a strange light. Because very strong winds were blowing at this specific location, which was also “inhabited” by many snakes, they decided to build the monastery on a different position, slightly to the south. However, the cells that were initiated during the day were mysteriously demolished during the night and every morning the tools were found at the spot that was initially indicated in the vision. This happened several times, until finally everyone was convinced that the monastery had to be built at the initial spot.
The monastery was built in the 11th or 12th century A.C. and is a perfect sample of the Cycladian architecture, has a wonderful view (due to its 600 m. of altitude), houses a significant library with more than 2,000 titles and offers the possibility to visit the cell of Saint Pelagia, which remains just the same as it was when it was inhabited by Her.
Kambos sits on the top of a scenic hill surrounded by fields and is home to the Costas Tsoklis Museum, home to works by the renowned contemporary artist.
Kardiani is one of the most beautiful villages of the island, with stunning architecture and breathtaking views towards Syros, has been identified by the Ministry of Culture as a traditional settlement. With its green areas and plenty of running waters, it is built on the mountainside of Pateles, 17 km northwest of Chora. A small creek is running through it and it has many springs with beautiful fountains.
The history of Kardiani begins in ancient times. In excavations in the area, six tombs of the Geometric era were found and also, many other archaeological findings which are hosted in the archaeological museums of Tinos and Athens, as well. The old village was inhabited by Orthodox and Catholics, who have been living together, harmoniously, over the centuries. The cathedral of the Orthodox, the Holy Trinity (Agia Triada), is a monument and an imposing temple as well and the two Catholic churches are the Assumption of Mary (“Santissimos”) and the Birthday of Mary (Kioura). The Multi Cultural Center of the village hosts a Folklore Museum. As many other villages of the island, Kardiani has a tradition in marble art and many famous marble craftsmen worked there.
Loutra (which means "baths" in Greek) is a picturesque village that mostly distinguishes for its impressive monasteries, such as the Monastery of Ursulines, built in 1862 and where many daughters of the Greek aristocracy went to school, as well as the Jesuit Monastery, built in 1661.
The village of Tarambados, as well as the village Smardakito, is known for the dovecotes which are scattered around the hills and valleys outside of the town. Said to have been brought to the island by the Venetians, the doves were a staple in the diet of the islanders and their droppings were used as fertilizer. The houses that were built for these flocks of birds are mostly from the 18th and 19th century and are all over the island but particularly around these villages. Each of these buildings has a different design and though you will find them on many of the Cyclades islands, those in Tinos are the most interesting and abundant. So, one shouldn't miss the fun maze of small streets decorated with marble sculptures and leading to the breezy valley lined with dovecotes (one should look for the sign "Pigeon Houses" Area).
A worthwhile detour inland takes one to Agapi, in a lush valley of dovecotes. Ethereal and romantic, it lives up to its name (meaning "Love" in Greek). Situated on a mountain slope, Agapi has a special architectural beauty with paved roads, alleys, stunning arches, traditional houses with unique lintels and the traditional well with the laundry characterize the village. It is also worth visiting the church of Aghios Agapitos, the “Griza” area with the running waters and the ravine with dovecotes.
Important note: There may be strict clothing rules for those visiting churches and monasteries. Sleeveless shirts and shorts are usually not permitted and men must wear long trousers that go below the ankle.
Hiking - Trekking
Tinos is an excellent destination for hikers, with 22 marked trails of varying length and difficulty. They range from a 45-minute stroll to a three-hour hike and meander between villages and up and down hills.The Anavasi trekking map of Tinos is indispensable. The foothpaths connect most of the villages and several of the beaches and they are marked with numbers and signposts at intersections, so that hikers know which way to go and how long it should take one to get there. The ten official journeys are mentioned below:
- Falatados - Mirsini - Livada - Faros
- Xinara - Exombourgo - Koumaros - Skalados
- Arnados - Kehrovouni - Mountados - Tripotamos - Exombourgo
- Kionia - Ktikados - Chora
- Falatados - Volax - Agapi
- Mirsini - Tsiknias
- Steni - Potamia - Lihnaftia
- Dio Horia - Faneromeni - Agios Ioannis Porto
- Kalloni - Koris Pyrgou - Platia - Pyrgos
- Kardiani - Isternia - Pyrgos - Malas
At the Tourist Information office or at the Town Hall of Tinos one should be able to find the pamplet "A Travelogue of Tinos" by Tassos Anastassiou, who has also done books and walking maps for Andros, Syros and Kea.
Mountain Climbing (Secured Climbing or Bouldering)
Though it may be unfamiliar to many people, Tinos is well known internationally, especially in Europe, as a climbing destination. Whether one is interested in secured climbing or bouldering, which is climbing low cliffs without using a rope, Exombourgo and Volax respectively, will offer to everyone a thrilling experience.
On the impressive and steep Exombourgo with its Venetian castle, initially about 70 routes were drilled and then followed another 28. The routes are divided into nine sectors (grouped under the names: Psygio (Refrigerator), Glyptis (Sculptor), Tama, Ochyro (Fort), Paximadokleftra, Miracle with their difficulty ranging from 5a to 7b +, with most of them ranging between 6a and 6c. All routes are fully equipped with stainless steel plugs – rings. From “Tama” for beginners to the Afesi Amartion "absolution" for the experienced, the granite of Exombourgo will compensate the climber. One should ask locals for areas, access routes, difficulties, weather and soil characteristics before one starts climbing on the island and, of course, one should not forget the necessary helmet. The best time for climbing Exombourgo is in spring and in the fall, and during mild winter days. Summer is not prohibitive since, depending on the conditions, there are available routes. Special caution is required because of the frequent and strong winds on the island.
The unique “lunar” landscape of Volax, apart from its wild natural beauty and geological interest, offers the greatest field for bouldering in Europe, with its granite boulders covering more than 20 square kilometers. The rotund or frequently zoomorphic rocks form the 8 fields with about 700 problems. One can get the detailed guide for bouldering, describing most of them. Since there is no shop selling climbing equipment on the island, climbers should not forget to be provided with the necessary equipment (climbing shoes, magnesia, tape for fingers, brush for cleaning the rock, crash-pads, mattresses). The best time for bouldering in Tinos is the winter but one can also try doing it in summer, always avoiding the exposure to the sun during midday. Obey safety rules, consult the local climbers and enjoy bouldering in the high-level “tracks” of Volax.
The lunar scenery of “Volax” with its totally round rocks, create a huge natural attraction. The large rock (hill) of Exombourgo is also a great challenge for those who love climbing.
Surfing - Wind Surfing
This “Aeolian Island” could be nothing else but the playground for surf lovers. Strong winds, properly orientated beaches and big waves, being there only to invite and challenge! The fact that Tinos is an ideal destination for water Extreme Sports, is probably not a secret anymore - at least not for the last decade, since the island has gained reputation for its surfable waves, breaking on beaches, such as Kolimbithra, Langada etc. and the opening of a surf-school, offering board rentals and surf lessons. With a weather forecast for a wind of Beaufort 5 and above (trust us-it is not strange, especially in August), a surf lover could head for:
- Megali Kolymbithra: A beach famous for water sports. Sandy, exposed to northern winds, very long and facing the North Aegean.
- Livada: Also in the North, known for very large waves. Requires care and experience because the bottom is rocky and there are a lot of currents.
- Agios Fokas: The longest sandy beach of the island, in the south, closer to Chora.
- Kionia: Also long, sandy and close to Chora.
- Romanos: Sandy, forming a bay, in the southern part.
- Pahia Ammos: Forming a bay and facing the Strait of Tinos – Mykonos. Waves are rare but it is worth it.
- Ag Ioannis (Porto): large, sandy beach, in the S/E part of Chora.
For Surfing one should choose Kolymbithra and Livada or the southern beaches with southerly winds.
For Windsurfing, Agios Fokas, Kionia, Saint Romanos and Ag. Ioannis (Porto).
For Kite surfing options are numerous as well.
In summer, mainly in August, but in recent years in July as well, the prevailing winds most of the days are the northern ones. Quite often, during winter, there are very strong southerly winds. If one is looking for big waves, one should select the northern beaches with the north winds and the southern ones with the south winds. The island has a coastline of 114km, one will surely find a favorite but yet undiscovered spot and enjoy surfing on the island.
The bottom of the sea in Tinos offers breathtaking underwater scenery and unique pictures to lovers of diving. Along the coastline one will find bays, caves, rocky spots and shipwrecks. Beaches of particular diving interest and easy to reach by car are the following:
- Stavros: The ruins of the ancient harbor, pieces of ancient utensils, intricate formations and the abundance of fish compose a unique scenery.
- Livada: Rocky bottom, shells and a wreck.
- Vourni: Large reef, unique colors and intense biodiversity
- Agios Romanos and Panousa: Steep cliffs, spectacular rocky ground and sandy valleys.
- Sostis: An interesting seabed with its reef being seen, even out of the water.
If one has a boat, one can also dive in “Skala”, being characterized by the reef, the residues of once, extensive fishing activity in the area and spectacular cliffs. The island offers renting of diving equipment and training, as well.
Fishing - Snorkeling
The clear, blue waters of the island and the variety of fish make fishing on Tinos an attraction for those who love fishing. Depending on the season, one will go fishing for breams, bream, balls, groupers, scorpion, petropsara, dory and squid.
By boat (for angling, trolling, longline) one should go to the Strait (Steno) of Tinos – Andros, the Strait of Tinos – Mykonos, or Panormos and the island (Planet) opposite it. From the mainland (pole or line) one can select the piers of the two ports (old, new) and the lighthouse of Chora, Agios Romanos, the bay of Ysternia and Panousa, in the southern part of the island. The fishing grounds in the northern part of the island are rather inaccessible and the villagers know certain places which they reach after a long walk. In autumn and winter, squid are invading the island and fishing (from shore or by boat) becomes… a local “sport”.
Areas suitable for snorkeling are: Planitis, Livada, Panousa, Ag.Petros, Stavros.
Useful Phone Numbers: Fishing Association of Tinos (22830-22123, 24280), Tinos Port Authority (22830-22220).
Sports: Football - Basketball - Volleyball - Tennis - Jogging
A list with the courts around the island can be found below:
- Beach Volley: Organized beaches for championship games are Kolymbithra, Kionia, Ysternia and Kalamia.
- Football: There is a municipal football ground in Chora (on the beach, next to the old harbor), one in Steni (adjacent to Mesi village) and another one, a 5X5, near Agios Sostis.
- Basketball and Volleyball: A court near Chora (on the main road to Ag. Ioannis-Porto).
- Tennis: A private court near Agios Sostis.
- Jogging: The path starting from the coastal road in Chora to Agios Fokas (2.5km) is quite flat and easy to run and another one, a little harder, the coastal route from Chora to Kionia (3km).
Daily Excursions by Boat
There are a lot of daily excursions organized by local tourist agencies, such as:
- Daily Excursion to the island of Delos (less than 2 hours away), the famous Aegean island since ancient times, the ancient land of worship and the place with the most sunlight in the world. The excursions takes visitors to secluded beaches as well.
- Daily trips to Mykonos, Syros, Paros, Naxos and Andros. These are day-trips by ferryboat, with same-day return. More distant islands, such as Santorini, require more than one day.
There are plenty of cultural events taking place on Tinos island. Some of them can be found in the list below:
Annual Adjective Arts Meeting - “Bazaart Exclusive”
The Annual Adjective Arts Meeting “Bazaart Exclusive” is held every summer, in July and August, at the Cultural Foundation of Tinos. Inaugurated in 2009, this wonderful art exhibition is open to the public every day, even on Sundays. Works of art of various artists are presented covering all the spectrum of adjective arts.
Tinos Festival (previously called Exomvourgo Festival) is also held annually during the months of July, August and September and includes many events in many different villages and Chora. Events include art exhibitions, concerts of contemporary and classical music, theater plays and many more.
Tinos Jazz Festival is also annual and attracts important artists from various countries all over the world.
International Literary Festival
The International Literary Festival began in 2010 and has already attracted talented and highly regarded authors from many different countries, like China, Iraq, USA, Finland, Croatia, Serbia, Ireland, Israel, Cyprus and, of course, Greece. This interesting multicultural literature event is combined with local cultural musical and dance events.
Local Products Festivals
At Tinos are also organized various local products festivals, like the Artichoke Festival at Komi every May, the Honey festival at Kampos every September, the Capers Festival at Steni every July, and the Raki Festival at Falatados every September.
Revival of Trawl
Another interesting event is the Revival of Trawl organized at the end of August at Kionia, when visitors gather at the beach and fish for certain amount of time. Then, wine and sea food are offered and folk groups dance and play traditional music.
Finally, various religious feasts are combined with free food, wine and raki, music and dancing. Among them, the one that really stands out - apart from the large feast on the 15th of August at the Virgin Mary Church in Chora - is called "Fanarakia" and takes place on the evening of January 30th, which is the day that the Orthodox Image of Virgin Mary was found. Children, students, and people of all ages walk around the Church to the sounds of music played by the Municipal Band, holding colorful lanterns. This is a truly spectacular event.
A list of various religious feasts is presented below:
- Annunciation of Holy Mary at Hora on 25 March
- Zoodohou Pigis (2 feasts) on Friday after Easter at Exombourgo and Dyo Horia
- St. Konstantinos & Eleni on 21 May at Agia Triada
- Assumption Feast at Arnados 39 days after Easter
- St. Antonios celebration on 13 June at Samardakito & Exombourgo
- Holy Spirit celebration at Agia Triada, Kardiani, Falatados and Hatzirados 50 days after Easter
- St. Peter & St. Paul feasts at Triandaros on 29 June
- Saint Apostles at Triandaros on 30 June
- St. Anargiri on 1 July at Arnados, Marlas and Porto
- Prophet Elijah: 2 feasts on 20 July at Vaketa and Chora
- St. Anna on 25 July at Tzados
- St. Paraskevi at Isternia on 26 July
- Saviour’s Transformation Feast on 6 August at Priastro and Karya
- Assumption of Virgin Mary on 15 August at Chora and Vrysi
- Kyra Xeni Celebration on 23 August at Pyrgos
- St. Ioannis the Decapitator at Komi on 29 August
- St. Sostis on 6 September at Agios Sostis
- Birthday of Virgin Mary on 8 September at Vourniotissa
- Holy Cross: two feasts on one 14 September at Ktikados and 15 September at Chora
BEST BEACHES OF TINOS
Having a coastline of more than 100 km, Tinos is famous for having some of the most beautiful beaches in Cyclades. There is a great variety of choices, from secluded and private beaches with absolute silence to cosmopolitan, organized ones with beach bars and lots of activities to have some fun. Some of the beaches are not protected from the strong northern winds, making them perfect for water sports like windsurfing, such as the very organized beach Agios Fokas with the Akrotiri Surf Club, whereas some other beaches have calm waters even on very windy days, like the famous Agios Sostis beach. Agios Ioannis Porto, Agios Sostis, Agios Romanos and Kionia are just a few of the beautiful and calm beaches in Tinos, located on the southern side of the island. Generally, Tinos beaches on the south are more popular and organized with hotels, seaside taverns, and cafeterias. Tinos beaches on the north are secluded and more affected by the wind. Below there is a list with some of the best beaches of the island.
Kolympithra beach is one of the most renowned and cosmopolitan beaches on the island, about 18 km from the town of Tinos. It is actually a large bay with two beaches. It is cosmopolitan, organized with deck chairs, umbrellas, showers, toilets and even a court for beach volley and paddleball.
Kionia is just 2 km from the town of Tinos. One will find it perhaps the most cosmopolitan beach on the island. With a view towards Syros, it is protected from winds and is fairly well organized, with umbrellas, as well as a variety of restaurants, taverns, bars and cafes near the beach.
Agia Kiriaki beach begins at the little church of St. Kiriaki and ends at the end of the beach of St. Sostis. This long beach has three different names: Agia kiriaki, Stiliantari and Agios Sostis and the beach is located in the new area called Agios Ioannis Porto. It is a sandy beach with sun beds and umbrellas and crystal clear water. There are many hotels, restaurants, taverns and a mini market on the shore. One should bear in mind that the beach of Ayia Kiriaki is quite exposed to the North Wind.
Agios Sostis beach is located exactly opposite from the island of Mykonos and is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches on Tinos. There is a long pier for those who wish to dive into the light blue waters, Ayios Sostis beach is a sandy beach and offers a lot of shade for those that wish to avoid the strong sun rays. There are taverns, restaurants, hotels and shops at a short distance from the beach. The beach is protected from the strong north winds and one of its characteristics are the cleanness of the beach and the sea.
Agios Ioannis Porto is located just six kilometers east of Tinos Chora and is the most well-developed resort area of the island, besides Kionia. The area which generally referred to as Porto is actually two bays; the beaches on the longest of the two bays, though one contiguous long stretch, are variously called Ag. Sostis, Skilandari, Lauti, and Ag. Kiriaki. Taverns and a mini market will also be found there. The public bus from Chora terminates at Porto Bay, the second bay. The sea bottom drops off very gently, and the beaches are superb for children, since the large sandy beach has clean shallow waters and it is not affected by northern winds. Moreover, visitors have the ability to buy snacks, water and refreshments at the beach bar and choose between umbrellas and tamarisk trees for shade.
Leivada beach, being located on the east coast of Tinos and accessed within about 5 km from Chora through a quite rough track from Steni village, is definitely the most impressive beach of Tinos. This beach stands out because of its sculpture-like rocks and wild water. The small and exotic beach has pebbles and crystal blue deep waters, surrounded by strange big green and white rocks with numerous holes of various sizes. The area next to the beach is ideal for exploration, with oak trees, a lake with ducks and a small river reaching the sea, explaining why the water at Leivada is so cold.
Its wild landscape makes it quite unique and one of the most beautiful spots in Tinos, especially for nature lovers and divers, since it is the ultimate diving experience with its crystalline waters. There are no beach facilities and the area retains its unspoiled character. Only a small tavern is found nearby. As one leaves the beach, one should walk as far as the lighthouse at Papargyras, and then around the highest mountain in Tinos, Tsiknia.
Agios Fokas is the largest beach on Tinos and also the most organised beach on the island. The beach stretches for kilometres along the entire line of Chora, to the ancient walls of Vryokastro and the beach of Agios Sostis. Being rather exposed to strong winds, it is ideal for water sports, that is why the Akrotiri Surf Club for windsurfing is there. Agios Fokas provides everything: umbrellas, cafeterias, restaurants, rooms to let, a beach bar, water sports and camping. Pines and tamarisk trees provide shade along the beach, while it is suitable for jogging or walking, since at its edge (in about 1.5 km) lays the ancient rock of Vryokastro, where one can find ruins of prehistoric acropolis of the island, with a marvelous view to the island of Delos.
Agios Romanos is located 6 kilometers northwest of Tinos Town. It is a long beach right below the developed settlement with crystalline blue water and soft sand, as well as some pebbles. Along the sandy shore are plenty of trees for natural shade and a cozy tavern some meters away from there, which is among the beat taverns on the island, so visitors don’t have to worry about food. One could also do windsurfing there. The beach offers a clear view to neighbouring island of Syros and the remote beach of Pigadia with crystal waters which is accessed through a rough path.
Lychnaftia is an isolated, not organized, thus unspoiled, beach, at the eastern part of the island, just 5 kilometers away from Chora. The waters are blue and crystal clear, but what really makes it unique is the black and white pebbles spread all around on the golden sand. At Lychnaftia, the blue horizon seems infinite, whereas it is the right place for a romantic couples’ getaway with its marvelous scenery in a full moon night.
Pachia Ammos beach: Located 10km from the Chora, right next to Lychnaftia beach, there is one of the most isolated and exotic beaches on Tinos. This idyllic beach with fantastic dunes of fine golden sand that end to the beautiful deep blue sea, is quite inviting for its unspoiled and peaceful surrounding. Having no beach facilities or any other kind of accommodation to disturb this wonderful experience, it is the perfect spot for those who wish to spend some moments of solitude. Although the road is rough the final destination will certainly award you.
HOW TO GET TO TINOS
BY AIR: Tinos does not have an airport, but it has a heliport. The closest airports are located at the islands of Syros and Mykonos, with which Tinos is connected by boat on a daily basis.
BY BOAT: Tinos is connected by boat with the ports of Piraeus and Rafina, both ports easily accessible by travelers arriving from abroad to the Eleftherios Venizelos airport (even though Pireaeus is the main port of Athens, the one in Rafina is actually closer to El. Venizelos airport, so visitors are advised to check it out too). One could travel to Tinos with conventional ferry boat (which takes longer, but is "safer" on the windy days, since the turbulence of the sea isn't as easily felt by travellers as in the speed ferries), with Highspeed or Flying Dolphin depending on the way (if they have a car with them or not), the day and the company they wish to travel with.
Tinos is also directly connected to the islands of Andros, Syros and Mykonos, and to almost all Cycladic islands (such as Naxos, Paros and Santorini) with stops in-between. In addition, there are ferry connections from Tinos to the islands of Crete, Rhodes, and basically all Dodecanese and East Aegean Islands via a third island.